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Heart-wrenching! Chinese scholar missing after fire in Canada, relatives say room she rented for one night burned down

via:新浪科技     time:2023/3/23 13:04:06     readed:257

↑救援人员用起重机寻找遇难者Rescue workers use a crane to search for victims

A five-alarm fire broke out in a building with Airbnb units in Montreal, Canada, at around 5:30 a.m. local time on March 16. Witnesses reported people calling for help from Windows and at least one person jumping from the burning building.

Montreal police confirmed on the evening of March 21, local time, the fire destroyed the building, so far two bodies have been recovered. As of March 22, five people were still missing.

Among those missing is Wu An, a female Chinese scholar. Wu's aunt, Wu Suzhen, said in an interview with Red Star News that Wu was still missing. "I haven't seen any new information." She's an only child, and her parents are so old, I didn't even know they were... How can we ever live."

The trip is for an academic conference

I only got one night on Airbnb

Wu, 31, is a neuroscientist. She received her PhD in neuroscience from the University of Miami in 2016 and works as a project scientist at the University of California, San Diego. In life, Wu An is a girl who likes skiing and fitness, but in the field of scientific research, her research has begun to be influential among her peers. "If there had been no accidents, she would have been a leader in her profession one day soon." "So we feel very, very sad. Such a nice girl..."

Wu Suzhen told Red Star News: "Her classmate also talked to me. Her classmate's exact words were that she is very good at her major and is very famous. I also read what her mentor said about her. Her tutor said that she had great potential in scientific research and was a very smart and intelligent student. Some very difficult scientific projects, as soon as she put them into her hands became easy."

According to Wu Suzhen, Wu was in Montreal, Canada, to attend the 2023 summit of Computational and Systems Neuroscience (COSYNE). "The annual Lecture on Neuroscience, held this year in Montreal." Wu originally stayed at the hotel where the seminar was booked, but after the seminar ended on March 14, she booked a room on the third floor of the building through Airbnb for the night of March 15-16, so that she could travel to the airport on March 16. However, the building caught fire that night. It is reported that Wu An rented room has been completely burned down.

"The house she rented was on Airbnb." "During the meeting, she stayed at the hotel booked for the seminar," Wu told Red Star News. On her last night, she booked the hotel on Airbnb for a connecting flight back to the United States. She checked in that night and was still talking to her classmates at 11 p.m. For a few hours, without warning, he disappeared."

With the help of warm-hearted people

Wu's parents will fly to the scene to look for their daughter

On March 16, Ms. Wu's supervisor and colleagues, unable to reach her, went to her apartment and found that she was not at home. They immediately reported Wu to the San Diego police station and contacted the US Customs, who reported that there was no entry record of Wu from Canada to the US. Meanwhile, Canadian police received a tip from an Airbnb host about Wu's disappearance and contacted her emergency contact through their US counterparts.

On the evening of March 17, Beijing time, Wu An's father received a phone call and was told that his daughter was missing. "Her father received a call from one of her colleagues and friends in the United States. Honestly, he can't get in touch with her. Then, we tried to get in touch with her, but we couldn't. No one answered the phone, no one answered the wechat phone... Even today, how can it be so hard?" Wu Suzhen cried on the phone.

Wu An's parents work in China's Anhui province. Since Wu's parents learned the news, they have been lying awake at night in tears, wondering how to cope with the possibility that they may have lost their daughter. With the help of the Chinese Consulate in Montreal, Wu's parents will fly to Montreal tomorrow (March 23) to continue their search for their daughter after receiving their visas.

For both of them, a plane ticket almost got in the way. "We're not a very wealthy family. We really don't have the savings to go to Canada. It would be a problem to buy a plane ticket there." Wu Suzhen told Red Star News that with the help of warm-hearted people and staff, Wu's parents had a chance to try to reach Canada as soon as possible.

Where is the man? Who will be in charge?

These answers still have a "long way to go"

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plant vowed on Tuesday to strengthen oversight of rental platforms and called on Airbnb to work more closely with the city government to crack down on illegal short-term rentals after a fire ripped through a building that included Airbnb units. The city says the building was built in 1890 and that Airbnb-style short-term rentals are illegal in Old Montreal, where the building is located.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plant said: "What happened here is a complete tragedy. Obviously, if we were dealing with a company that was serious and responsible and said to these Montreal owners' You don't have a certificate, you can't rent out your units, 'we wouldn't be in this position."

Meanwhile, the victim's family has questions. Wu told Red Star News that she learned the Airbnb room was illegal when she watched the news after the fire broke out. "The hotel is illegal. It has no security, no fire protection. What's more, it doesn't meet some of the regulations on short-term rentals. It doesn't have all these [safeguards] that it should have. Why is this happening?"

Wu Suzhen continued: "So if this happens now, what will happen in the future? Who can be in charge? We have not received an answer."

Wu's family may be in for a long wait. As the fire building is a cultural relic building, some demolition work will be carried out slowly. Montreal Fire Chief Martin Gilbert said the second and third floors of the building, where Wu lived, would be torn down "piece by piece." Rescuers "are continuing to scan the site from a safe distance due to the risk of collapse."

In addition, identification will take time, authorities said. Sgt. David Shain of the Montreal Police Department said identifying the remains would be a "lengthy process." "We can't give names quickly." He acknowledged that the wait can be "unbearable" for family members.

Red Star News reporter Wang Yalin intern reporter Deng Shuyi

Editor Guan Li Editor Pan Li

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